Some may think it strange that for the first movie review on our site we go with an oldie. But with all the Batman nonsense going around these days I feel its important to remember our caped crusader roots. At this point your probably thinking “well it didn’t START with Batman Returns, what about Adam West?” and yadda yadda yadda. And you would be correct in doing so if I had forgotten to put the following sentence in this article: For my generation, Michael Keaton was the first true Batman.
Lets face it, the Batman series starring Adam West and Burt Ward was amazing, and was nothing short of television and comic book history. But we must acknowledge that it was nothing close to what the character of Batman was supposed to be. We’re talking about a man who has dedicated his life to defeating evil after his parents are brutally murdered in front of him. To make the character light-hearted at all was truly a mistake. But it was what worked in that time period, so thank god for the passage of time, and thank god for Tim Burton.
Tim Burton is a twisted, twisted individual in the most wonderful way, and he couldn’t have come around at a better time for the Batman universe. For it was in this time that, finally, The Dark Knight actually became “Dark”. The suit went from the grey/blue combo to straight black, and the tone of sorrow that was well overdue finally reached the internal monologue of our hero. The Rogues Gallery of villains was altered to match as well especially with the inclusion of Two-Face, and more violent and crazed Joker.
One would think that in talking about this particular time period in the Bat-verse I would start with “Batman” (1989) instead of it’s sequel “Batman Returns” (1992). It would have made sense, but I’ll tell you why I didn’t. Simply because I feel “Returns” is a much stronger movie.
Burton (or whomever he utilized as his cinematographer) had obviously zeroed in on the shooting style that was best to use for each character. While “Batman” had many great images, and the overall product is excellent, it seems to have been filmed like it was any other film. With “Returns” the shooting style seems to constantly reflect the moods of the characters, and really brings out the nitty gritty of each of the actors.
The story, it seemed, was better written as well. The plot and dialogue flowed immensely better with the action than the previous film, which goes to show you should always let Tim Burton be Tim Burton. Because as it turns out, he didn’t sign up to do the sequel until the script met all his demands, as he was unhappy with how “Batman” came out. The chemistry between each of the characters was able to develop and by allowing that to happen, the actors became more ingrained in their roles. I was no longer watching Micheal Keaton portray Batman, I was watching Batman be Batman.
Danny Devito hits a home run on this flick. Perhaps the writing of his dialog was made to coincide with his actual personality, because its obvious he was perfect on every level for the character. Mega cheers to the makeup department especially on little nuances like the black saliva that would splatter across his white face when he would get nasty.
There are very few roles that actually fit the personality of Christopher Walken, this is one of them. As a billionaire industrialist with a vast empire of corruption, he could fit right in if it were a real world scenario. He walks the walk, talks the talk, and adds just that little bit of evil that is needed to put him over the edge when the situation arises.
A word on Michelle Pfeiffer: perfect. The perfect balance of crazy, desperate, nerdy, and sexy that makes up Selina Kyle/Catwoman. The suit is the most perfect to date as far as reflecting the characters personality, and highlighting her naughty tendencies. If the series had continued with Pfeiffer, we could have seen some great things.
Despite the fact that it was made in the early 90’s, it doesn’t seem dated at all. Sure, the cars they use are obviously from a generation that has now passed, but that has been the case in many Batman comics. The Batsuit, some would say, is certainly behind the times compared to that of the ever changing suit in the Chris Nolan series. But the suit did indeed progress from one film to the other, and perhaps if they had done another two or three sequels, we would have seen an evolution in the suit not unlike what we see today.
All in-all, the great combination of script, set design, and cast make for an all time classic Bat-Flick that will no doubt be enjoyed for generations.